Saturday, July 23, 2005

Iran tells EU not to demand an end to nuclear work

Iran said on Saturday it had delivered a message to European foreign ministers in London last week, telling them not to try to solve a nuclear dispute by asking Tehran to surrender atomic technology. READ MORE

An EU troika of Britain, Germany and France has been negotiating with Tehran to try to defuse a crisis over Iran's nuclear program. The EU group has asked Iran to stop making nuclear fuel in return for economic incentives.

Iran says the nuclear fuel is destined for power stations rather than warheads, and argues it has every right to continue making enriched uranium.

The EU trio has until late July or early August to present Iran with a set of final proposals aimed at ending the dispute.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said a letter from Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani had been presented to the trio's foreign ministers before the proposals are submitted.

"We clarified to the Europeans that if the minimum requirements expected by the Islamic Republic are not taken into account, we will not accept their proposals," Asefi told a news conference.

When asked what the "minimum requirements" expected by Iran were, the official said: "Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear technology."

Iran insists it is entitled to turn the uranium it mines in its central desert into nuclear fuel and that there is no way it will give this up as a diplomatic gesture.

Rohani gave an interview to the Kayhan daily on Saturday, saying Iran already had a "significant" number of centrifuges, ready to start making nuclear fuel, should Iran decide to do so. Centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning it at supersonic speed.